The bridges of Portland are strong visual designs and statements of human intent. Bridges take us places… as they have with our learning. Structures and forces became engineering, beauty and functionality became design. Words poured from aesthetics, geometry, physical and material sciences, and our first-hand experiences. Enjoy the album photos of days caught up with notions of “arch,” “beam,” “suspension.” If you look closely, and free your mind to join in moments of discovery and sharing, you will hear children’s twitters of “bascule,” “swing,” and “vertical lift”… and echoes of “footing,” “load,” “truss,” “pier,” “balustrade,” “forces”…

“Bridges” became a powerful theme in the fall as we moved from one school space, imagined the journey of our fanciful creatures as they followed us, and built structures from natural materials for the fairy-folk to travel from “here to there.” From plans and modifications to the realization of our grand ideas, we worked through design processes to make aged fairytale books and delightful spans of suspensions and arches. We learned vocabulary for the structures, elements, and movements of today’s engineered bridges. We mimed the meanings with our bodies in a bridge-dance, observed and drew real bridges on the Willamette River, and created labeled drawings that rival those found in engineering texts! Forces that act on bridges caught our attention and worked their way into our own safeguard designs.

And we weren’t done yet! Studio time and more materials beckoned us to continue to create “creature contraptions” that required further investigation and experimentation! A couple of lads proclaimed their goal to design and construct the first Trans-Atlantic bridge by the time they are 38 years old! (And they already have plans!)

We revisited electricity and developed switches and circuits to light our fantastical creations! From essential elements of circuits–observation, drawing, and labeling– making switches and investigating parallel and series configurations, working with multiple switches, and designing fancy lit balustrades, the children took on the challenge to light their world… and they certainly brightened ours!!!